Big Brother Watch claims schools in south-east London have CCTV cameras in bathrooms or changing rooms

Schools in south east London have cameras in bathrooms or changing rooms, civil liberties group Big Brother Watch claims

Schools in south east London have cameras in bathrooms or changing rooms, civil liberties group Big Brother Watch claims

First published in Bexley by

CIVIL liberties group Big Brother Watch has claimed several schools across south-east London  have CCTV cameras in either bathrooms or changing rooms.

Big Brother Watch used Freedom of Information requests to collect data about CCTV cameras at more than 2,000 secondary schools and academies across the country.

It found that more than 200 had surveillance cameras in bathrooms and changing rooms and that, on average, there was one camera for every 38 pupils.

The group claimed Sedgehill School, in Sedgehill Road, Lewisham, had four cameras in bathrooms or changing rooms; Cleeve Park School, in Bexley Lane, Sidcup, had two; Plumstead Manor/Negus School in Old Mill Road, Plumstead, had one; and Woolwich Polytechnic School for Boys, in Hutchins Road, Thamesmead, simply confirmed the presence of cameras.

Lewisham was one of 24 boroughs with more than the average number of CCTV cameras, with 65 cameras among four schools that responded to Big Brother Watch’s requests.

The Eltham Foundation School – now Harris Academy Greenwich - had one of the highest concentrations of cameras, with one for every nine pupils.

News Shopper attempted to contact each school concerned for a comment, but only Sedgehill responded.

Sedgehill School’s headteacher Ken MacKenzie emphatically denied that the school had CCTV cameras in changing rooms or toilets.

He said: “When we moved into our new, state-of-the-art building, it was fitted out with CCTV in line with every other new school build across the country.

“It is a complete distortion for Big Brother Watch to equate this with ‘student surveillance’. CCTV reassures students and parents—footage is not monitored or saved and CCTV protects the building from outside vandalism, theft and intruders.

“Having the ability to check CCTV footage of the school playground, corridors and other community spaces is one of the reasons why incidents of misbehaviour are so rare at Sedgehill.

Obviously, the teacher presence in classrooms means that CCTV footage would never be required in classrooms.”

Big Brother Watch said it was highlighting a sensitive issue concerning not just who is viewing the footage but also that young people are growing up into an environment where surveillance is the norm.

It is calling for the Home Office’s code of practice for CCTV to be extended to all public bodies, a government-commissioned independent review of the use of CCTV in schools and for a surveillance camera commissioner to have the power to enforce a code of practice.

Director of Big Brother Watch Nick Pickles said: “This research raises serious questions about the privacy of schoolchildren across Britain, with some schools having one camera for every five pupils and hundreds of schools using cameras in toilets and changing rooms.

“The full extent of school surveillance is far higher than we had expected and will come as a shock to many parents.

“Schools need to come clean about why they are using these cameras and what is happening to the footage. Local authorities also need to be doing far more to reign in excessive surveillance in their areas and ensuring resources are not being diverted from more effective alternatives.

“The Home Office’s proposed regulation of CCTV will not apply to schools and the new commissioner will have absolutely no powers to do anything. Parents will be right to say that such a woefully weak system is not good enough.”

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:04pm Fri 14 Sep 12

ksc says...

To obtain a petrified, totally submissive society willing to do anything to appease the ruling party very similar to what they have in North Korea, you have to instil fear in a whole nation, very difficult to do if the nation consists of many millions of people, the best way is to use the nation against itself, if people think someone is watching them they are much more willing to "grass" on a neighbour friend or even family member in the hope of currying favor with the man at the top, it works well in N. Korea, Russia, China and so on. The only problem is that, if you don't want to be a repressed country you have to collectively have it in you to fight back, we don't, how many times have you heard "if you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide" is that not society trying to appease the government, "I'm a good little soldier so I'm not worried" but unless you can live a seventy or eighty year life without breaking a single law, never drop an empty crisp packet, do thirty one in a thirty, forget to pay for the news paper tucked down the back of the shopping basket or even swear in the street, you will become one of the untrustworthy, and once you are labelled then you can be legitimately watched, and once you have a valid reason for watching everyone, then it's just a small step to becoming hybrid of Russia, N.Korea and China.
To any world leader, having a country willing to anything to keep the top man happy is a dream worth fighting for, so yes it may be just a few schools today, but it will, eventually, be your living room.
To obtain a petrified, totally submissive society willing to do anything to appease the ruling party very similar to what they have in North Korea, you have to instil fear in a whole nation, very difficult to do if the nation consists of many millions of people, the best way is to use the nation against itself, if people think someone is watching them they are much more willing to "grass" on a neighbour friend or even family member in the hope of currying favor with the man at the top, it works well in N. Korea, Russia, China and so on. The only problem is that, if you don't want to be a repressed country you have to collectively have it in you to fight back, we don't, how many times have you heard "if you've done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide" is that not society trying to appease the government, "I'm a good little soldier so I'm not worried" but unless you can live a seventy or eighty year life without breaking a single law, never drop an empty crisp packet, do thirty one in a thirty, forget to pay for the news paper tucked down the back of the shopping basket or even swear in the street, you will become one of the untrustworthy, and once you are labelled then you can be legitimately watched, and once you have a valid reason for watching everyone, then it's just a small step to becoming hybrid of Russia, N.Korea and China. To any world leader, having a country willing to anything to keep the top man happy is a dream worth fighting for, so yes it may be just a few schools today, but it will, eventually, be your living room. ksc
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Fri 14 Sep 12

rarecockneyguvnor says...

Its already is. 'They' can see what you spend , where you spend it, and what you buy already if 'they' really want too.
Its already is. 'They' can see what you spend , where you spend it, and what you buy already if 'they' really want too. rarecockneyguvnor
  • Score: 0

1:31pm Fri 14 Sep 12

Beth__W says...

What worries me more than the cameras is the comment "...footage is not monitored or saved."
My kids' school is not mentioned in this article but there are a lot of thugs, criminals, gang members and other low-lifes in schools around SE London. If anything happened to my children, I'd like it to have been caught, and saved, on CCTV.
If you're not a criminal you don't mind them.
What worries me more than the cameras is the comment "...footage is not monitored or saved." My kids' school is not mentioned in this article but there are a lot of thugs, criminals, gang members and other low-lifes in schools around SE London. If anything happened to my children, I'd like it to have been caught, and saved, on CCTV. If you're not a criminal you don't mind them. Beth__W
  • Score: 0

11:51am Sat 15 Sep 12

TheEverardedbutt says...

"CCTV reassures students and parents—footage is not monitored or saved and CCTV protects the building from outside vandalism, theft and intruders."

If the CCTV is neither monitored or saved it is clearly pointless. Just another way for schools to **** their budgets
"CCTV reassures students and parents—footage is not monitored or saved and CCTV protects the building from outside vandalism, theft and intruders." If the CCTV is neither monitored or saved it is clearly pointless. Just another way for schools to **** their budgets TheEverardedbutt
  • Score: 0

10:07am Tue 18 Sep 12

englishman333 says...

it works we all know it!
it works we all know it! englishman333
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree